The is/ought thing

Discuss arguments for existence of God and faith in general. Any aspect of any orientation toward religion/spirituality, as long as it is based upon a positive open to other people attitude.

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runamokmonk
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Re: The is/ought thing

Post by runamokmonk » Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:21 pm

fleetmouse wrote:
Robin Yergenson wrote:And these truths have context. They do not apply to rocks and are therefore not necessarily true nor contingently true for rocks. These oughts are contingent upon a certain context
I'd like to address this idea of contingency in the sense of dependence on context. The way philosopher Richard Swinburne expresses it is that moral properties are supervenient upon non-moral properties.

"It may be that all acts of telling lies are bad, or it may be that all acts of telling lies in such and such circumstances (the description of which is a long one) are bad. But it must be that if there is a world W in which a certain action A having various non-moral properties is bad, there could not be another world W* which was exactly the same as W in all non-moral respects, but in which A was not bad. If capital punishment for murder is not bad in one world, but is bad in another world, there must be some non-moral difference between the two worlds which makes the moral difference – for example that capital punishment deters people from committing murder in the first world but not in the second world. Moral properties, to use philosophical terminology are supervenient on non-moral properties. And the supervenience must be logical supervenience. Our concept of the moral is such that it makes no sense to suppose both that there is a world W in which A is wrong and a world W* exactly the same as W except that in W* A is good. It follows that there are logically necessary truths of the form ‘If an action has non-moral properties B, C and D, it is morally good’, ‘If an action has non-moral properties D, E and F, it is morally wrong’ and so on. If there are moral truths, there are necessary moral truths – general principles of morality. I re-emphasise that, for all I have said so far, these may often be very complicated principles. All moral truths are either necessary (of the above kind) or contingent. Contingent moral truths (e.g. that what you did yesterday was good) derive their truth from some contingent non-moral truth (e.g. that what you did yesterday was to feed the starving) and some necessary moral truth (e.g. that all acts of feeding the starving are good)."

[emphasis mine]

I realize that's a difficult passage to digest. The rest of the essay is here. It's well worth reading.


Well, I went there and scanned it one time and then read it again.

One thing I don't understand~
Our concept of the moral is such that it makes no sense to suppose both that there is a world W in which A is wrong and a world W* exactly the same as W except that in W* A is good.
But he also says on the 2nd 'page, after bringing up things such as slavery, suttee, racism~
And if those of some other culture think otherwise, they are obviously mistaken –just as obviously mistaken as are solipsists and flat-earthers.

He does not need to suppose two identical worlds where A is wrong and A is good. It would be happening on Earth.

Two different cultures. Culture W, A is good. Culture W*, A is bad.

IF, I understood this, his argument seems to be geared around the above two Worlds scenario. Which shows a necessary moral truth. But, by that quote right above it shows that this happens in this world. He just says they are obviously mistaken.

I don't see where the logic is that proves something is necessarily true. Maybe I will read it again some other time.

Just my thoughts. This is not an argument. It is something I find odd.

Also, his idea of God seems to be different then mine.
Last edited by runamokmonk on Sat Sep 29, 2012 8:11 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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runamokmonk
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Re: The is/ought thing

Post by runamokmonk » Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:28 pm

Another interesting thing is Jesus and the upside down kingdom. What the world says is good, the kingdom says is bad and visa versa.

So, it is entirely possible to live in a world where A is good but you think it is bad.

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Re: The is/ought thing

Post by Metacrock » Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:44 am

runamokmonk wrote:Another interesting thing is Jesus and the upside down kingdom. What the world says is good, the kingdom says is bad and visa versa.

So, it is entirely possible to live in a world where A is good but you think it is bad.
on some things. there is a core morality that all cultures basically endorse in some form.
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Robin Yergenson
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Re: The is/ought thing

Post by Robin Yergenson » Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:36 am

Hi fleetmouse,

I had said, “And these truths have context. They do not apply to rocks and are therefore not necessarily true nor contingently true for rocks. These oughts are contingent upon a certain context.” To which you say,
I'd like to address this idea of contingency in the sense of dependence on context. The way philosopher Richard Swinburne expresses it is that moral properties are supervenient upon non-moral properties.

"It may be that all acts of telling lies are bad, or it may be that all acts of telling lies in such and such circumstances (the description of which is a long one) are bad. But it must be that if there is a world W in which a certain action A having various non-moral properties is bad, there could not be another world W* which was exactly the same as W in all non-moral respects, but in which A was not bad. If capital punishment for murder is not bad in one world, but is bad in another world, there must be some non-moral difference between the two worlds which makes the moral difference – for example that capital punishment deters people from committing murder in the first world but not in the second world. Moral properties, to use philosophical terminology are supervenient on non-moral properties. And the supervenience must be logical supervenience. Our concept of the moral is such that it makes no sense to suppose both that there is a world W in which A is wrong and a world W* exactly the same as W except that in W* A is good. It follows that there are logically necessary truths of the form ‘If an action has non-moral properties B, C and D, it is morally good’, ‘If an action has non-moral properties D, E and F, it is morally wrong’ and so on. If there are moral truths, there are necessary moral truths – general principles of morality. I re-emphasise that, for all I have said so far, these may often be very complicated principles. All moral truths are either necessary (of the above kind) or contingent. Contingent moral truths (e.g. that what you did yesterday was good) derive their truth from some contingent non-moral truth (e.g. that what you did yesterday was to feed the starving) and some necessary moral truth (e.g. that all acts of feeding the starving are good)."

[emphasis mine]

I realize that's a difficult passage to digest. The rest of the essay is here. It's well worth reading.
I like the notion of universal morality where given all the same relevant context, action A will be the appropriate action in all possible worlds. When a predator nocks at your door and asks which bedroom you teenage daughter is in, and assuming that she is not part of a sting operation to capture the predator, it is right to lie to the predator. Absolute morality where oughts are independent of context is wrong. From what I can tell, we are in agreement on this. Where do you stand on the is/ought comments that I also made?

Rob

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fleetmouse
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Re: The is/ought thing

Post by fleetmouse » Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:59 pm

Robin Yergenson wrote:Where do you stand on the is/ought comments that I also made?
I think you're missing a "glue layer" between is and ought and Swinburne's account provides that through the supervenience relationship between non moral and moral properties.

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Re: The is/ought thing

Post by fleetmouse » Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:11 pm

runamokmonk wrote:He does not need to suppose two identical worlds where A is wrong and A is good. It would be happening on Earth.
Don't get thrown off by the "worlds" jargon. Wherever he says worlds, just think "conceivable states of affairs". And they needn't be identical except in ways that are relevant to the moral properties of the action.
Two different cultures. Culture W, A is good. Culture W*, A is bad.

IF, I understood this, his argument seems to be geared around the above two Worlds scenario. Which shows a necessary moral truth. But, by that quote right above it shows that this happens in this world. He just says they are obviously mistaken.
The other option is that moral propositions have no truth-values whatsoever.
I don't see where the logic is that proves something is necessarily true.
If an action is wrong given a particular set of factors (which he admits may be a lengthy description), then it's wrong wherever and whenever those factors obtain, or else it isn't wrong in the first place.

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met
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Re: The is/ought thing

Post by met » Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:20 pm

Metacrock wrote:
runamokmonk wrote:Another interesting thing is Jesus and the upside down kingdom. What the world says is good, the kingdom says is bad and visa versa.

So, it is entirely possible to live in a world where A is good but you think it is bad.
on some things. there is a core morality that all cultures basically endorse in some form.
All cultures endorsing something doesn't mean it's really right either, doesn't mean God endorses it....
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Robin Yergenson
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Re: The is/ought thing

Post by Robin Yergenson » Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:36 pm

Hi Fleetwood,

Earlier I had said, “I have demonstrated that oughts derive from is-es as follows:

1. Those things that benefit and harm an organism are factual is-es.
2. With few exceptions, the preference to live and thrive is in the very nature of a rational organism qua organism. This natural order is also a fatual is.
3. It follows then that in order for a rational volitional organism who wants to obtain living and thriving to obtain it, that organism ought to act in ways that obtain benefit and ought not act in ways that obtain harm.

There. Oughts from is-es in three easy steps. Of course the words used here have definitions but I don’t see that as being a road block to their being true. And these truths have context. They do not apply to rocks and are therefore not necessarily true nor contingently true for rocks. These oughts are contingent upon a certain context, that of rational volitional organisms whose very nature is to want to obtain living and thriving. It does not apply to rational volitional organisms that do not stand to benefit (that relatively small category of people who’s quality of life is gone with little possibility of returning).”

And I asked, “Where do you stand on the is/ought comments that I also made?’

You say,
I think you're missing a "glue layer" between is and ought and Swinburne's account provides that through the supervenience relationship between non moral and moral properties.
Are you are suggesting that I research “Swinburne's account” (which I am not compelled to do) or have you actually internalized his account so that you can support your claim? I mean, we all have a limited amount of resources to devote to these discussions. Instead of appealing to authority, it would help if you all would succinctly state your claims.

Rob

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Re: The is/ought thing

Post by Metacrock » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:09 am

met wrote:
Metacrock wrote:
runamokmonk wrote:Another interesting thing is Jesus and the upside down kingdom. What the world says is good, the kingdom says is bad and visa versa.

So, it is entirely possible to live in a world where A is good but you think it is bad.
on some things. there is a core morality that all cultures basically endorse in some form.
All cultures endorsing something doesn't mean it's really right either, doesn't mean God endorses it....
sort of backs what Paul says about moral law written on the heart.
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Re: The is/ought thing

Post by Metacrock » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:13 am

Robin Yergenson wrote:Hi Fleetwood,

Earlier I had said, “I have demonstrated that oughts derive from is-es as follows:

1. Those things that benefit and harm an organism are factual is-es.
2. With few exceptions, the preference to live and thrive is in the very nature of a rational organism qua organism. This natural order is also a fatual is.
3. It follows then that in order for a rational volitional organism who wants to obtain living and thriving to obtain it, that organism ought to act in ways that obtain benefit and ought not act in ways that obtain harm.
that only follows if you assert up front that this is the nature of value. It doesn't follow logically at all that it has to be. This is relative because you don't show how to get an ought out of it rather than just dogmatically asserting that you want it be.

Merely saying '"this is what we do," that's just a "is" not an ought.
There. Oughts from is-es in three easy steps. Of course the words used here have definitions but I don’t see that as being a road block to their being true. And these truths have context. They do not apply to rocks and are therefore not necessarily true nor contingently true for rocks. These oughts are contingent upon a certain context, that of rational volitional organisms whose very nature is to want to obtain living and thriving. It does not apply to rational volitional organisms that do not stand to benefit (that relatively small category of people who’s quality of life is gone with little possibility of returning).”
that's all arbitrarily privileging those aspects of things without any intrinsic reason to do so.
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